A fire over the weekend near Lakeville damaged Fur-Ever Wild, a property long mired in controversy because of the exotic animals once kept there.

The fire started on the roof of an unspecified building Friday just after 9 p.m., according to Troy Ruby, a supervisor at the Dakota County dispatch center. Lakeville firefighters were at the property Saturday as well tending to hot spots. “It went on most of the day,” Ruby said.

Ruby said he did not think any animals or people were injured.

A cause or damage estimate were not yet available. Several other fire departments helped the Lakeville department fight the blaze, Ruby said.

Owner Terri Petter, who ran Fur-Ever Wild as a petting zoo featuring wolves, cougars, foxes and other animals for years, was forced to get rid of all of her exotic animals except for one wolf in April 2018. She was complying with a court ruling backing a Eureka Township ordinance banning exotic species. More recently, she has operated “The Farm” on the property, which features animals like horses and cows.

She is also at the center of a federal lawsuit filed in fall 2017 by the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Lockwood Animal Rescue Center, animal rights groups that seek an injunction to prevent Petter from keeping wolves. The groups allege that she bred wolves, letting visitors play with the puppies and feed the adults. Then, in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act, they allege she killed them for furs or their carcasses when they grew up.

Petter has long denied that she mistreats any of her animals. A trial is planned for April 2019.

 

Erin Adler • 612-673-1781